Chapter 1 : Love and a Locket
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The life of Salazar Slytherin had never been particularly cheerful, but at least he had always had one thing to keep him going. As a young child, it was his family. As he grew older and his family drifted away, it was his newfound friend, Godric Gryffindor. As life wore on and he reached maturity, it was the woman he had fallen in love with, his wife, Cecilia.
In this dark time, though, he had no one, for now it was in fact Cecilia who was casting the shadow over his heart and suffocating him with grief. Who was to offer him words of comfort when the one companion he had was wasting away before his very eyes?
The once-beautiful and proud woman lay sprawled helplessly on her sickbed, her complexion entirely too pale and her body too weak to look peaceful. Her raven hair fell lank against her sallow cheekbones; her breath came in slow, shallow gasps. Salazar knew that his beloved had little time left.
Her movements were feeble and pitiful, and Salazar thought that perhaps if she reserved her energy, she would not part from him as quickly. It was a selfish thought, though. His feelings aside, it would be better for Cecilia if she passed away sooner rather than later, and she would be saved much agony. She had refused to allow him to try curing her; her illness was one that was unknown to wizard kind, and both were reluctant to attempt an untested remedy. The last thing Salazar wanted was to make her condition worse.
These were her last hours, possibly her final minutes. He clasped her hand gently, afraid of hurting her if he gripped too tightly. Tears stung his eyes, and he had to fight around a growing lump in his throat. How could life be so cruel as to take his love away from him so early in life? She still had many years left in her, as did he, and he did not think he could bear going on through life alone. When he had abandoned Godric, Rowena, and Helga, she was the one who had guided him out of his misery and shown him all the good, both in the world and in him.
"Cecilia," he choked, wishing she could open her eyes so he could see them one last time, "you can't leave me here. After you, there is nothing left!"
Her eyelids twitched, and her lips parted slightly. It was hard to hear through her ragged breathing, but somehow he knew that she was trying to form words, and after a valiant struggle, she spoke loudly and clearly enough to understand.
"Take... my locket," she moaned hoarsely, and he felt a small pressure where their hands touched as she tried her best to squeeze his. His heart turned over; she had to be referring to the locket he had crafted her, a heavy locket shaped from gold and decorated with a serpentine S in the middle; it stood, not only for Slytherin, but for salvation. The second meaning was known not even to Cecilia, for he did not think he could bear the knowing look in her eyes if he told her.
Salazar had never meant to have the locket returned to him. He had hoped she could pass it on to a daughter, but Cecilia had only borne two sons, one of whom took no particular pride in his father, and both of whom lived too far off to visit often. Silently he vowed to leave the locket to his younger and more favorable son in his will.
Cecilia reached a trembling hand up to her throat, where the locket dangled crookedly on its chain. She fumbled with the clasp on it until it was almost unbearable for Salazar to watch. Finally, it fell free of her neck, and she held it out to him. He grasped the chain in one hand, but she did not let go yet.
"I am not just giving you a locket," she whispered, barely audible. "I am giving you my heart with it... If only I could give the rest of me for just a little while longer..."
Those were the last words Cecilia Slytherin spoke. Her last breath left while both husband and wife had one hand curled around the locket.
Salazar buried his head in her hair and tried to hold back the tears of despair that threatened his eyes.
Less than three years later, Salazar Slytherin was laid to rest by his son, the one of the two who had been bothered at all by his death. He had found his father's will hidden in a compartment of the wizard's desk, guarded by the Slytherin family password: serpent-tongue.
Though he did not know it, he was sitting in the very chair where Salazar before him had sat beside his dying wife and received in return from her his most prized possession. The son opened the will and scanned its contents until he found one section that interested him.
To my dearest Cyrus,
I give to you the locket I made for your mother long ago. It was returned to me on the day she died, and I have not once looked at since that awful day. It is my hope that you will pass it along the male line of Slytherins so that Cecilia's spirit will remain forever in the world.
There is no doubt in my mind that my death was brought on by grief for your mother. I tell the truth that I did not wish to continue living when she was gone, and it would make me happier to leave this world and join once again with her forever.
Do not mourn for me, for I am where I want to be now.
I remain forever yours,
Salazar L. T. Slytherin
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